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Oregon Rights of Nature Advocate Receives International Environmental Lifetime Achievement Award

February 28, 2018


Media Contact: Mary Geddry
[email protected]

EUGENE – This year’s recipient of the international David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award is Lincoln County resident Carol Van Strum. Carol is being recognized for her decades worth of outstanding environmental and social justice work including in the area of rights of nature. An award ceremony is being held on Thursday, March 1, 2018 at 6pm, in the ballroom of the ERB Memorial Union building on the UO campus in Eugene, Oregon.
The international David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, honors David Brower, one of the founders of the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and the Earth Island Institute. The award is presented to activists, community members, and attorneys who exemplify David Brower’s spirit and the spirit of environmental awareness he sought to awaken in people.

Carol Van Strum’s achievements include leading the fight to stop the spraying of Agent Orange and other herbicides on federal forest land in the Five Rivers Valley of Lincoln County, Oregon in the 1970-80’s. Her tireless efforts put Lincoln County and Oregon on the national map after a successful lawsuit against the U.S. government which banned aerial pesticide spraying on federal forests.
Carol documented the events of that campaign against herbicides in the book “A Bitter Fog: Herbicides and Human Rights” which tells the tragic stories of families affected by aerial pesticide spraying in the Five Rivers area, including Carol’s own children, and exposes the fraudulent studies and corruption that allow continued use of poisons in state and private lands nationwide.

In 2017, Carol joined the efforts of Lincoln County Community Rights, a chapter of the Oregon Community Rights Network, to defend the first-in-the-nation voter-approved, county-wide ban on aerial pesticide spraying to protect people and our natural world from aerially sprayed poisons.
A lawsuit brought by representatives of the timber industry to overturn the people’s vote sprung Carol into action yet again, this time to speak on behalf of the rights of nature. The new law banning aerial spray of pesticides did so in part on the grounds that it violated the rights of ecosystems and natural communities in Lincoln County from being toxically trespassed.

“I have lived in Lincoln County for 43 years in a home surrounded by river and forest. I am part of the ecosystems of Lincoln County. The Declaration of Independence itself asserts that the laws of nature preempt human law. Like the Lorax, I speak for the rights of waters and forests and wildlife to challenge human violations of natural law”, said Carol when she filed in 2017 to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of the Siletz River watershed. A court decision whether the ban on aerial spray will be upheld or overturned is expected soon.

Carol has also been fighting the U.S. Navy’s continuing attempts to weaponize our coastal waters and take over our national forests and other public lands for weapons testing and war games. And in 2017 a publication called the “The Poison Papers” was released that largely came from Carol who had 40 years of documented evidence (100,000 pages) of fraudulent studies and false data used by the chemical industry and government regulators to approve poison products for industries such as industrial logging.

The ORCRN is a 501(c)(3) made up of local chapters and community rights activists from various communities in Oregon. The mission of the ORCRN is to support and empower communities to secure local self-determination and self-governance rights, superior to corporate power, in order to protect fundamental rights, quality of life, the natural environment, public health, and safety.

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Coos Bay

Coos Bay Estuary Informs FERC that Terminal and Pipeline Would Violate Its Rights

October 26, 2017


Media Contact: Mary Geddry – 541-551-1492

[email protected]

Coos Bay

BANDON, OR – Yesterday evening the Coos Bay Estuary filed a motion to intervene in the FERC proceedings to permit Jordan Cove Energy Partners an export terminal at Jordan Cove along with the accompanying Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline.


In the intervention filing, submitted by Coos Commons Protection Council on behalf of the estuary, the estuary describes itself as, “an ecosystem made up of a deeply diverse and interdependent community of birds, aquatic plants, fish, shellfish, oysters, insects, and humans.  For millions of years I have served as what your EPA considers a nursery of the sea where salmon and waterfowl breed and oysters filter out sediments and pollutants from the watersheds that feed me. Waters made clean and healthy from the work of natural communities connected to me, help to feed marine life in the ocean.” The estuary finishes its comments to FERC by saying, “The authorization of this project would be unlawful, unethical, poisonous and destructive.”

The full text of the Coos Bay Estuary intervention can be found here:

The main point made by the estuary is to remind the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) that nature has rights and that human activity, especially corporate fossil fuel activity, has been in violation of the rights of nature. The claim is not merely a statement of right but one of which has been increasingly recognized as legally to be protected:

  • In 2008, the country of Ecuador amended its national constitution to establish the rights of ecosystems within the country to exist, regenerate, evolve, and be restored.
  • On July 27, 2014, Te Urewera, an 821-square mile area of New Zealand, was designated as a legal entity with “[A]ll the rights, powers, duties and liabilities of a legal person.”
  • In November of 2016, Colombia’s Constitutional Court found that the Atrato River, including its tributaries and watershed, is “an entity subject to rights to protection, conservation, maintenance and restoration.”

that human populations are those that are interdependent on the natural world – not the other way around- and that they must assume the consequences of their actions and omissions in relation to nature. It’s about understanding this new socio-political reality with the aim of achieving a respectful transformation with the natural world and its environment, just as has happened before with civil and political rights…economic, social and cultural rights…and environmental rights…Const. Ct. of Colombia

  • On March 20, 2017, the High Court of Uttarakhand at Nainital, in the State of Uttarakhand in northern India, issued a ruling declaring that the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers are “legal persons/living persons.”
  • In September 2017 a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Colorado River against the State of Colorado for violating its rights due to pollution, climate change, and excessive water withdrawal.
  • Over three dozen municipalities within the United States, including the City of Pittsburgh, have adopted municipal laws recognizing the legally enforceable rights of ecosystems and nature, and the authority of municipal residents to bring suits in the name of individual ecosystems

More countries and municipalities are working towards securing nature’s right to exist, persist, flourish, and naturally evolve, which not only brings with it the right of legal standing, but also the full effect of the law to defend rights before the courts when violations occur.

“For millions of years the Coos Bay Estuary has provided habitat, food and shelter to the Southern Oregon coast,” said Mary Geddry. “The estuary deserves the same standing in these proceedings as inanimate objects like corporations.”

This filing precipitates the first US Rights of Nature Symposium being held at Tulane University School of Law, New Orleans, LA. The symposium brings together key leaders in the Rights of Nature movement – from Ecuador, Nepal, the United States, and other countries, as well as from local communities and tribal nations. The symposium’s promotion says this about the event, “Communities, people, and even governments are recognizing that there is a need to make a fundamental shift in humankind’s relationship with the natural world by placing the highest protections on nature through the recognition of legal rights.”

More information about the symposium and access to the live stream found here:



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Who Decides on Aerial Spraying?

Hearing on October 9th to look at Lincoln County’s measure 21-177 a ban on aerial spraying of pesticides

October 3, 2017


Contact: Maria Sause
[email protected]
541.574.2981 541.961.5606

Rio Davidson
[email protected]

Newport, Oregon: On the morning of October 9th, Judge Sheryl Bachart will hear from parties in the lawsuit Rex Capri and Wakefield Farms, LLC vs. Dana W. Jenkins and Lincoln County, and intervenor-defendants Lincoln County Community Rights. The lawsuit was filed in response to the people’s affirmative vote to ban aerial spraying of pesticides in Lincoln County on May 16, 2017. The ballot measure, Measure 21-177, has been law in Lincoln County since early June, and no documented aerial spraying has occurred since then.

In their original complaint and associated briefs, plaintiffs Rex Capri of Newport and Wakefield Farms LLC of Eddyville claim that the county’s ban on aerial spraying of pesticides is overridden by state preemption laws. If that claim is upheld, it would mean that the authority of corporations to engage in aerial pesticide spraying for profit is held to be superior to the right of the people of Lincoln County to ban such spraying due to its documented harms to public health and the environment.

The most recent evidence of the toxic effect of pesticides came to light a month or so ago, when it finally became possible to release an extensive collection of documents, now referred to as the Poison Papers ( The documents had been stored for several decades by Lincoln County resident Carol Van Strum, a key figure in getting the government to stop aerial pesticide spraying on federal forests in Lincoln County back in the 1980’s.

The plaintiffs claim additionally that the measure should never have been voted on in the first place, because the county lacked the authority to even pose the question of an aerial spray ban to the voters of Lincoln County.

“Do we, as a community, have the right to determine to protect ourselves, our children, and our environment from a clear harm like the spraying of pesticides from aircraft into the atmosphere?” asks John Colman-Pinning, long-time Lincoln County resident and activist with intervenor-defendants Lincoln County Community Rights. “We wholeheartedly believe we do have that right and that is what the court must affirm as a legitimate right.”

In defending the authority of Lincoln County voters to enact the ban, Lincoln County Community Rights (LCCR) will be asserting the people’s right of local community self-government. LCCR will argue that, based on their inherent and inalienable right to self-govern, the people of Lincoln County have lawfully enacted local rights to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the County’s residents and environment more stringently than the state is willing to protect them. The voters’ approval of Measure 21-177 also protects the community’s rights to clean air and water. Additionally, LCCR argues that, even under the state’s laws, the ordinance is lawful because local laws are presumed to be valid except where the law conflicts with preemptive statutes. LCCR maintains that the laws can be read to coexist where they seek to achieve different purposes.

“This case gets to the heart of who and what our laws are meant to protect: the people or corporations? Community welfare or corporate profits? Lincoln County Community Rights is standing up to say that the law must recognize the right of the people, not corporations, to decide fundamental issues in the communities where they live.” says Ann Kneeland, attorney for LCCR.

The hearing on the parties’ motions for summary judgment will be heard at 11:00 am on Monday, October 9th, in front of Judge Sheryl Bachart, in Courtroom 300 of the Lincoln County Courthouse in Newport.


Lincoln County Community Rights is a public benefit organization that seeks to educate and empower people to exercise their right of local community self-government in matters that pertain to their fundamental rights, their natural environment, their quality of life, their health and their safety. Given the harms that people and ecosystems suffer from the practice of aerial spraying of industrial forest land with pesticides, the group drafted an ordinance to ban aerial pesticide spraying in Lincoln County, Oregon. Measure 21-177 was adopted by voters in May 2017, making Lincoln County the first county in the United States to ban aerial pesticide spraying through the vote of the people.

15,000 Lane County Residents Call for Ban on Aerial Spraying

September 25, 2017


Media Contact: Rob Dickinson
[email protected]


Volunteers from throughout Lane County have collected more than 15,000 signatures calling for a ban on the aerial spraying of herbicides by timber corporations. On Friday, September 29 at 10 a.m., citizens will deliver the petitions for certification to the Lane County Elections office at 275 West 10th Avenue in Eugene.
The Lane County Freedom from Aerial Spraying of Herbicides Bill of Rights would amend the county charter to make it unlawful for corporations or governmental agencies to engage in the aerial spraying of herbicides from helicopters and other airborne vehicles.
The amendment requires 11,500 signatures of registered Lane County voters to qualify, but public support has been so strong the final tally has far exceeded that. Once certified by the county election office, the amendment will be put to a public vote on a future ballot.
Katja Kohler-Gause, one of the Chief Petitioners of the initiative and a member of Freedom from Aerial Herbicides Alliance, says “This is not just about ending the aerial spraying of herbicides in our county. It’s also about the people of Lane County asserting their right to say “No” to harmful practices by huge corporations that threaten our health, safety, and welfare. These corporations engage in these hazardous practices with little regard for how they affect the community, and that’s got to stop.”
A second ballot initiative, The Lane County Self-Government Charter Amendment, that acknowledges the right of local communities to prevent corporate harms, like aerial spraying, fracking or oil pipelines, with the same authority secured in the Declaration of Independence, the Oregon Constitution, and the United States Constitution, currently has over 11,000 signatures of registered voters.
In all, Lane County residents have collected nearly 27,000 signatures to protect their community from corporate harms to our environment, health, economy, and individual liberties.
Community members, small business owners, and Chief Petitioners will be available for interviews.
Information on Community Rights Lane County can be found at:
Information on the Lane County Freedom from Aerial Spraying of Herbicides Bill of Rights and The Lane County Self-Government Charter Amendment can be found at: and

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Right to Ban Aerial Spraying Passes in Lincoln County

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Media Contact: Mary Geddry

[email protected]


Voters in Lincoln County have adopted Measure 21-177 by 61 votes. The delay in the final ballot count came as voters who had not signed their ballots were given the opportunity to sign. Voters had until 5pm this evening to make their ballots official with a signature. The vote count at the end of election night had the measure passing by 27 votes.

“It’s been over thirty years since aerial spraying of pesticides have been poisoning our county, so waiting a few more days to confirm that the people of Lincoln County are ready to put that toxic legacy in the past has been well worth it”, says Rio Davidson of Citizens of a Healthy County. “Our right to a healthy environment is key to our quality of life and livelihoods and the people in Lincoln County are done with the timber industry sacrificing our future.”

Measure 21-177 prohibits the aerial spray of pesticides in-order to secure the right to clean air, water, and the overall right to health of people and ecosystems. The common practice of the industrial timber industry is to aerial-spray toxic pesticides (1 to 2 applications yearly for the first 3 to 5 years of growth) on clear-cuts to kill off vegetation “competing” with the growth of newly planted and young commodity crop trees.

“A line has been drawn in the sand by the people of Lincoln County that says our right to decide on protecting our right to clean water, personal health, and protection for ecosystems is more important than allowing a corporate agenda to continue to cause harm to the community.”, says Nancy Ward, board member of the Oregon Community Rights Network (ORCRN).

Despite the affirmative vote of the people of Lincoln County in saying yes to Measure 21-177, Citizens for a Healthy County and the ORCRN are anticipating that the timber industry or supporters of the timber industry will not honor the new law prohibiting aerial spraying and will file a lawsuit to block or overturn the law. Such a lawsuit will pit the right of a community self-government authority to protect health, safety, and welfare against corporate activities that threaten or harm the community’s rights.


To learn more about Measure 21-177 go to